Giving pupils a laptop can boost academic outcomes

Provision of a free laptop for every pupil and staff member in primary schools can raise academic performance by up to 23 per cent above the national average, a new report has unveiled.

These latest findings emerge from a ground-breaking report uncovering the benefits of a Chromebook laptop for every primary pupil and staff member in nine primary schools across London and South East England that make up LEO Academy Trust.

Led by Dr Fiona Aubrey Smith, Founder of PedTech and Director of One Life Learning, this independent research shares insight into the impact of digital transformation on academic performance, children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), staff wellbeing and workload, classroom and resourcing efficiencies, sustainability and staff recruitment and retention.

Key findings from the report, titled ‘Changing Learning. Changing Lives: What happens when EdTech becomes PedTech’ include:

Attainment: Pupils significantly outperformed against national standards. The gap between national average and LEO Academy Trust academic outcomes continues to widen each year including from 14 per cent to 23 per cent in the last three years alone.  
Classroom efficiency: Replacing repetitive, manual tasks with digital alternatives improved classroom efficiencies by 23%, increasing teachers’ capacity levels.  
Improved Attendance: LEO Academy Trust’s schools bucked recent trends of persistent absences challenges with higher than national average pupil attendance rates.  
Enhanced Staff Satisfaction and Retention: Staff satisfaction levels at participating schools were consistently above national benchmarks by as much as up to 20 per cent, delivering significant savings in recruitment efforts.  
Environmental and Financial Savings: The reduction in worksheet printing and exercise book dependency saved approximately 400 trees per year equating to a saving of around £78 per child per year.
Greater Depth Achievements: The proportion of pupils achieving ‘greater depth’ (a DfE assessment criteria) in key subjects assessments at LEO Academy Trust was more than triple the national average.

The research was conducted over 12 months involving 4,500 survey responses, over 600 documents, 154 observations, 65 interviews and 24 focus groups, the report shares a comprehensive analysis, data-informed narratives and future-facing recommendations for the education sector, policy makers and the ed-tech industry.
Commenting on the report, Phillip Hedger, CEO of LEO Academy Trust said: “Four years ago, before COVID had even entered our vocabulary, we realised that our ambition to support every pupil to excel could not be achieved without fully embracing digital transformation. This led our Trust to take an unprecedented leap and provide a Chromebook device to every pupil and member of staff across each of the nine schools that make up LEO Academy Trust.   
“Internally, we knew our results had gone up, teachers were saving time, and the Trust was growing, but it was important to us that our personal judgement was backed up by independent evidence. We participated in this research project to gain unparalleled insight into how our Trust performs at every level, collect data to guide our future decisions and share positive solutions with the wider education sector nationally, as it grapples with serious and concurring challenges."
Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith, author of the report, Founder of PedTech and Director of One Life Learning, said: “The implementation of technology in the classroom is an issue of ever-growing importance. Parliamentary sources record UK schools spending around £900 million a year on EdTech, yet impact evidence has been scant.  
“This report draws upon a wealth of rigorously compiled evidence and hundreds of hours of professional reflection and discussion. It goes a long way in bridging the gap between ambitions for EdTech and how pedagogically led decision making results in impactful uses of digital technology.”


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